For reasons we don't yet fully understand, not everyone experiences limerence. People who do may experience it only once and then move onto a healthy relationship, or may fall into a lifelong pattern of obsessive relationships. Like drug addicts, some chase that lovesick feeling at the expense of their careers, families and health. Those who cannot let go of the intensity and euphoria of romantic love may be struggling with relationship, romance or love addiction. Behaviors may become dangerous, such as stalking or unwanted contact, and require outpatient or residential love addiction treatment, professional counseling and/or 12-step work.

Predictably, limerence shares little in common with the stable and solid kind of love that fortifies healthy long-term relationships. Limerent beginnings certainly can morph into sustainable partnerships, but often they beget heartbreak.  

Unlike love, limerence is not a choice. It ambushes us. The choice lies in whether we act on it, and how. Either we allow limerence to derail our goals and betray our relationships, or else we use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and initiate positive changes.

Perhaps there are 2 parts to the question as to why do we get limerence - why are we attracted to certain people and then why do some of us get stuck in an obsessive loop?

As for the first part- what drives attraction?

  • Its a biological drive to reproduce
  • We are replaying relationships from our early lives where we were wounded, hoping we get a better outcome this time around
  • We are seeking validation and love
  • A bunch of other stuff that drives attractive - facial features, voice, smell, pheromones, gait and all the unconscious stuff we are just not aware of

As for why do we get stuck in limerence, again its multifactorial:

  • Limerents have significant early life trauma that sets us up with behaviors that are limerent sensitising such as low self esteem, obsessive behaviour, addictive tendencies, codependency, love addiction, etc
  • We go through a life crisis that makes us vulnerable and drives us to seek external validation
  • Mid-life transitions / crisis is a big driver for some of us
  • We hook into an avoidant personality of an LO - this drives the push -pull relationship that sends us batshit crazy with uncertainty and is the rocket fuel for limerence
  • Our LO's are high on the narc scale so they use us as narcissistic supply - we experience behaviours are likely similar to the environments we grew up in and so feel familiar and comfortable, even though they are toxic and soul destroying
  • Maybe we have structural abnormalities in our brains that predisposes us to limerence?
  • Other yet to be discovered factors - the reality is we don't know diddly squat as to why do some of us experience limerence.

The therapeutic community is ignorant to limerence, 99% have never heard of it and most just write it off as a crush. LIMERENCE IS NOT A CRUSH. Until there is a wider acceptance of the impact and number of people that are impacted, little progress will be made. 


+2 # Arlene 2015-07-15 00:20
Limerents have significant early life trauma that sets us up with behaviors that are limerent sensitising such as low self esteem, obsessive behaviour, addictive tendencies, codependency, love addiction, etc

Would being given up at birth then having your adoptive parents get divorced at adolescence then living with an adoptive parent that married to an alcoholic create fertile grounds for limerence as a teen?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # David -Administrator 2015-07-15 03:20
Arlene, there is much discussion on the forum regards the relationship between limerence and early life trauma. Same goes for most (in my opinion All) other addictions.

as for adoption, that in itself is the ultimate rejection. In my own practice, ive worked with a number of people given up for adoption - they seem to have particular struggles. Your story is particularly poignant. I hope you can join the main forum as you will get much support there.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+3 # Darkside 2016-03-06 11:31
Just a theory. Limerence is a large surge for dopamine - the "wanting' neuroreceptor, but situationally, the wanting could not be rewarded. Thus driving even more dopamine into the brain. Without the opiord that comes with satiation, reptilian brain goes into overdrive.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # David 2016-03-06 12:27
nice theory but what causes the dopamine surge in the first place? Are we more prone to these surges or more sensitive?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Sal 2016-11-06 06:12
My naturopathic doctor had me fill out a questionnaire
that indicated my dopamine and serotonin levels are quite low. This predisposes me to depression and I have been managing that with overeating since I was 8 years old. I hope with some good naturopathic supplements my brain chemistry will normalize and reduce the needs for the highs of overeating carbs/fats and the highs of romance.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Wayne 2016-03-22 13:15
Slowly discovering I may be pre-disposed to limerance.

Like a fruit that bruise easily.... I seem to crush easy.

But married for 20 plus years, I have managed to remain faithful at least in the flesh....

The occasional dips into small pools of of attention directed at me by someone attractive, have caused some thoughts, fantasies...

Would the death during childbirth of my mother... and subsequently being suddenly removed at age 4 from the care of a loving family member / care giver who cherished me from days after birth contribute to this tendancy???

It is a battle .....
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # David 2016-03-22 13:19
Quoting Wayne:

Would the death during childbirth of my mother... and subsequently being suddenly removed at age 4 from the care of a loving family member / care giver who cherished me from days after birth contribute to this tendancy???

It is a battle .....

Hi Wayne, for sure yur mother's death may have contributed, almost definitely - read my thoughts on limerence and attachment.

As for it being a battle, that's the understatement of the century.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Onmyjourney 2017-09-24 18:52
I know your post is old, Wayne, but don't see responses. It is human to be attracted to attractive people, it is when it becomes obsessive and has some negative consequences on your family that it would be considered limerence. I definitely think your early childhood experiences impacting attachment to primary caregivers is a cause. If you accept that limerent thoughts are just another addiction, then the an identified cause, according to the ACE Study (ACES) by the CDC, is adverse childhood experience.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Wayne 2018-04-05 12:13
It has now been fully 2 years later, and thru much trial and tribulation, i remain married (though challenged).

Tried revealing, there was reciprocation, which often causes the Limerent Episode to dissipate - it hasn't.
... I had convinced myself i had "fallen out of love with my wife", but ..... Not even sure about that.

Unable to leave an otherwise perfectly good marriage relationship, i now wonder about my life-long notions about LTR's and monogamy....

Exlporing ability to love more than one person at a time...
I have always been a serial overlapping monogamist BUT now i begin to wonder....
Whether i have polyamorous tendencies, but in all prior relationships, when the New love presented, the old somehow was extinguished. Perhaps b/c i felt or believed it was not possible to love More than one person at a time....

How might early childhood and attachment play into THAT .
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # Sibyl 2016-08-06 11:19
I stumbled on the term "limerence" recently; and like a ton of bricks, it hit me I've been basically doing this my whole life. I've even called myself a "serial crusher." This in the midst of two long-term marriages. My father was abusive when I was a very young child -- by young, I mean still in diapers. I've been in therapy for three years now, dealing with what my therapist has diagnosed as PTSD. No wonder I have sought the comfort of the fantasy world.
The reason I'm writing today is there's been a LO in my life for a while... actually, I've known this person for six years, but only became limerent about a year ago. I't's been a struggle, and I've had all the flare-ups described here and on the (excellent) Wikipedia page on limerence. I can honestly say I haven't contrived to make our paths cross -- they just keep crossing. Small town, similar careers. Anyway, I am so thankful I found the term and am currently learning all I can.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+4 # Anders 2017-01-17 17:13
I see a lot of similarity between limerence and obsessive religiosity. The idolization of the LO seems to resemble the "love" and adoration the religious person feels for the idealized being of Jesus. The desperate need to feel the "love" of the "Savior" is for the religious devotee satisfied with a great sense of happiness and fulfillment in religious service with prayer and singing. I suspect that the deep psychological drives that lead to limerence are the same as what makes some people obsessively religious.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Degato 2017-04-26 13:23
Wow, that really makes sense!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # William 2017-04-18 16:52
My experience has been a bit different. My parents were fine as far I can tell. My father drank but was never abusive or overly neglectful.

The issue, as I can figure out, is that I knew I was different from a young age. As I got into middle school, I realized that I was gay. I think that from way earlier I was keeping myself distant from my family due to fear of rejection. I would agree that I was never attached well. Maybe I caused my own limerence susceptibility?

I seem to only get limerent feelings for unavailable (i.e., straight) guys. I'm so glad to learn what this about so I can forgive myself and start to heal.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Corey 2018-01-20 00:07
Hey William, I just wanted to let you know that you've answered a question I was mulling over. That is "Do gay's experience limerence?" It kind of disproves the assumption that an LO must be a potential mate, for obvious reasons.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Julia 2017-05-19 22:40
Limmerence is what I feel towards a man, we have connected recently. We have known one another at school & as teenagers, have only one contact 8 years ago at a school reunion. I remember that connection with him was strong but nothing was said until now 2 months in.
It has & feels like love just the throught of him excitement everytime he text or rings & meet.
Please help as we are both married to our partners since we were teenagers.
We have stepped over a few barrows & now the feeling the intensity is stronger everyday.
I am confused why I am letting this happen but still feel incredible joy whilst I/ he are in contact.
Is it real I do feel we will be both hurt or hurt everyone around us.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # David 2017-05-20 05:12
Julia - i suggest you read up about wound mates. That is what your attraction is. Soul mates is hollywood and modern romantic love bullshit for people that want to bypass their emotional growing up which is a hard path. You'll get more help on the main forum
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Ally 2018-05-08 17:28
I have suffered from serial limerence my whole life, it can last years or weeks. Ive never been in a relationship or had any kind of experience, because the obsession sends me into a state of intense anxiety. It starts off great, I convince myself they like me back and we're going to live happily ever after. Then as soon as I realise its all in my head, the high drops and i am left in an extremely depressed state. I have found myself acting stalkerish at times. Presently I have AS exams and I cannot stop thinking about my crush, i dont care about my grades at all in comparison. I fear I may fail because of it.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

Security code